Bangladesh has demanded an apology from Pakistan for the alleged atrocities committed by Pakistan Army during the 1971 war. It is claimed that nearly three million Bengalis were killed and thousands of women were raped. Nevertheless, Bangladeshi PM Hasina Wajid did not attend the D-8 Summit, in Islamabad, although Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar personally invited her. While the possibility of some excesses in a war-like situation cannot be ruled out, the figures quoted seems to be of mythical proportions.

Another myth bandied around and also subscribed to by some intellectual and political circles in Pakistan is that it was not Mujib, who orchestrated secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan, but the West Pakistani politicians and the army; a conclusion that is based only on the events that followed after the 1970 elections.

Both myths need corroboration by independent sources. these sources, however, do not find the figures of the Bengalis killed during the military action and the number of rapes alleged to have been committed correct. Dr Sarmila Bose, a Bengali intellectual in her book “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War”, argued that the number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000 while Bengalis were equally involved in the bloodshed of non-Bengalis. In regards to the much trumped up Jaysore massacre, she maintained that it was engineered and conducted by Mukti Bahni wearing army uniforms and the charges of rape are based on propaganda as no rape incident occurred at the hands of Pak Army personnel. The contentions of Dr Bose are endorsed by none other than General Manek Shaw, who claimed that he recruited 80,000 Hindus to create the Mukti Bahni, who dressed up in Pakistan Army uniform and raped and pillaged Bengalis. They also dressed up as civilians and carried out acts of sabotage against the civil and military Government of Pakistan.

Mujib was harbouring the idea of an independent Bangladesh for more than two decades before the 1971 war, which he publicly expressed when the Indian forces occupied East Pakistan, by saying that his dream of 24 years for an ‘Independent Bangladesh’ has been fulfilled. He was a traitor by all definitions of the word.

The Agartala Conspiracy Case instituted by Ayub Khan, which had to be withdrawn under intense pressure from the agitation led by Mualana Abdul Hamid Bhashani in East Pakistan and an unremitting demand by the politicians from the West Wing, was a reality and not a setup to discredit Mujib as claimed by his supporters. The Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Assembly, Shaukat Ali, who was one of the accused of the Agartala Conspiracy, on a point of order in the Assembly in 2010, confessed that charges read out to them were true stating that they formed a Shangram Parishad under Sheikh Mujib for secession of East Pakistan.

These facts leave no doubt in drawing the inference that India used Mujib to dismember Pakistan by providing training facilities to the Mukti Bahni, conducting murders and rapes to malign Pakistan Army and prepare ground for eventual assault. Tripura was actually the launching pad for offensive against the Pakistan Army for the Mukti Bahni and the Indian army. When Sheikh Hasina visited Tripura from January 11-12 in 2009, a Bangladeshi journalist Haroon Habib in an article published by The Hindu said that by visiting the state she was revisiting history as Tripura was the unofficial headquarter of the war of liberation.

The foregoing facts adequately explode the myths surrounding the Dhaka debacle. It is regrettable to note, however, that despite these irrefutable ground realities a lobby in Pakistan are endorsing the demand made by Bangladesh for an apology and trying to prove Mujib as a patriot based on the autobiography of Mujib; a deliberate and conscious effort to malign Pakistan and its army. The reality - as revealed by General Manek Shaw - is that most of the killings and rapes were carried out by the Hindus recruited by him and the elements hostile to Pakistan.

Pakistan has always looked forward to burying the past and have a cordial relationship with Bangladesh. Former President General Musharraf during his visit to Bangladesh expressed regrets over the tragic incident and urged the need for moving forward and not allowing history to bedevil the relations between the two countries.

Against the backdrop of realities unravelled by independent sources and circumstances surrounding the Dhaka debacle, there is no justification for Bangladesh to demand an apology from Pakistan.

The writer is a freelance columnist.  Email: ashpak10@gmail.com